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$4.5 Million for Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowships

The Graduate School of Education, in collaboration with the Annenberg School for Communication, SAS, and the Wharton School, was recently awarded $4.5 million for a five-year “Pre-Doctoral Training Program in Interdisciplinary Methods for Field-based Research in Education.” Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, the program is designed to support and enhance the Ph.D. training of students committed to careers in applied, field-based education research. In addition to the cooperating Penn schools, the program will involve up to six public school districts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. GSE Professor Rebecca Maynard is the PI and program director.

In addition to the graduate training offered through their home departments within Penn, fellows will receive training and field-based experience in multi-disciplinary research methods, including randomized controlled trials of educational interventions and innovations. Most program-supported field work is expected to take place in K–12 schools, although some research may involve studies of preschool-age youth or postsecondary school students. Settings for the research may include both inner city schools serving high-poverty neighborhoods and schools in working-to-middle class communities. 

“Fellows in this program will be actively engaged in field-based projects that both serve as hands-on training opportunities and contribute findings of importance to the partner schools, as well as to the wider education research community,” says Dr. Maynard. “This grant will enable us to transform the graduate training we offer our doctoral students here at Penn, providing financial and academic support for innovative, interdisciplinary training of Ph.D. students in the skills necessary to generate rigorous evidence to guide future education practice and policy.”

The first two Fellowships available under the program were awarded recently to Irma Perez-Johnson, a Ph.D. student in GSE’s Educational Policy program, and to MaryCary Bradley, a joint Ph.D. student with GSE and Social Policy and Practice who is studying in the Educational Policy and Social Welfare programs.

Partners in the program are four Pennsylvania school districts (Philadelphia, Lower Merion, Springfield, and Upper Dublin); two New Jersey districts (Trenton and Haddonfield); Research for Action; and the Robin Hood Foundation. In addition, experts in various aspects of education and experimental design research will provide on-site technical support to fellows.Any Ph.D. student at Penn who has completed one or more years of course work (8 or more CUs) and is in good standing within his or her home program may apply to become an IES Pre-Doctoral Fellow. The program is geared toward those Ph.D. students committed to furthering the production of scientifically rigorous research on the effectiveness of interventions to improve academic and social outcomes for children and youth. Fellows receive a $30,000 apprenticeship stipend and up to $10,500 to support tuition and academic fees annually for up to four years or through the completion of their dissertation, whichever comes first. This financial support may come from a combination of IES PreDoctoral Training Grant monies, school support, and/or funded research projects.


  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 13, November 22, 2005


November 22, 2005
Volume 52 Number 13


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